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Wadena, MN: Nativity scene on city park grounds to come down

November 16, 2015

After complaints from the FFRF the Wadena city council voted to remove a nativity scene from a city park last week.

Mayor George Deiss says for as long as anyone in Wadena can remember the nativity scene has been displayed at Burlington Northern Park. It used to be in the band shell, but was moved to the heart of the park last year and caught the eye of a resident.

“They were offended that we had put it out on city property,” Deiss said.

We would suggest that the issue is not about being offended, it’s about the promotion of one particular religion by a government entity.  That’s no so much about “offense” as it is about “unconstitutionality”.  When courts find that a particular action by the government is unconstitutional, we don’t describe the cause of that finding to be a response to someone being offended.

He argues the display is not about religion.

“When something is put up that many years it becomes a tradition to the city,” he said.

To claim that a nativity scene featuring the birth of the principal religious figure in one religion is somehow not religious seems to be a rather bizarre claim, but one that is not atypical when this type of issue arises.  In addition, the “it’s a tradition” response is not a great defense either: “we’ve always done it this way” says nothing about whether we should indeed be doing it this way in the future.

The national chapter of AU sent a letter to the city council in Wadena to address this issue, and we are pleased to see it get resolved.

Have you heard of similar issues in your town?  Americans United is here to help: send us an email at info@mnau.org

Thanks to an AU member JH who sent in the link to this article.

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